Saturday, June 6, 2015
I saw a trailer for the movie Ant Man recently, and it got me thinking about superheroes. Specifically, about superheroes that are associated with animals - and, as it turns out, there are a lot. Whether it's an ant's size and proportionate strength, a bird's flight, a spider's web, or a chameleon's camouflage, when imagining humans as something better or more evolved than what we are, we seem most inclined to think of attributes that already exist in other animals. Although humanity mostly gave up it's original respect for nature and non-human animals during the early industrial revolutions, some of this mindset seems to have stayed with us, in the admiration with which we consider certain animals, even if it is only in a fictional or symbolic context. It made me wonder that maybe if animals were just a little more human-like (if they walked on two feet or spoke a language we could learn or looked like Bruce Wayne - okay maybe that's too far) the current binary of humans over animals would be flipped. We admire so many things about animals but only when they attributed to humans - a parallel of sorts to cultural appropriation, but on a physiological/biological level rather than a cultural and aesthetic one. The implications are very similar to how a white girl wearing a bindi is 'artsy', while an Indian girl wearing one is a potential terrorist. Our admiration for animals and their abilities is obvious in our media, but that admiration has yet to return to the animals themselves.